House report: John Swallow hung 'for sale' sign on door of attorney general's office

Published: Wednesday, March 12 2014 11:30 a.m. MDT

Utah Attorney General John Swallow announces his resignation during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. The House Special Investigative Committee was scheduled to release the final report of its investigation into Swallow on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The special House committee charged with investigating former Attorney General John Swallow ended its work Wednesday with the release of a report that concluded he "hung a veritable 'for sale' sign" on his office door.

The report — more than 200 pages long with more than 3,700 pages of exhibits — states that "Swallow and others responsible for the abuses described" must be held accountable for their actions.

To that end, the report said the findings of the committee have been turned over to the appropriate law enforcement and professional licensing authorities for further action. Swallow continues to be investigated by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorneys and the Utah State Bar Association.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the House report complements the criminal investigation and is a "large part of the narrative that we are discovering."

"We have a lot of information to digest," Gill said, "and we're working aggressively to reach certain conclusions, but we're not there yet."

The state bar acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that it has had an active investigation of Swallow since allegations of wrongdoing appeared in the media a year ago January. The bar's Office of Professional Conduct intends to review the House report, as well as any results of the county probe.

The House investigation, which cost $4 million, started as a prelude to a possible impeachment, but Swallow resigned in early December, saying he couldn't compete with the resources of a committee that was out to get him.

The committee found that Swallow "compromised the principles and integrity of the office to benefit himself and his political supporters. In so doing, Mr. Swallow breached the public’s trust and demeaned the offices he held.

"Indeed, the committee concludes that Mr. Swallow hung a veritable 'for sale' sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors," the report states.

Swallow's attorney Rod Snow disputes that characterization in an email the committee posted online with the report.

"The suggestion the (attorney general's office) was for sale is absolutely false. It is a play on our political system for raising funds for campaigns that is simply untrue and an unfounded distorting of the facts. As much could be said of committee members who accept support from various groups and businesses," Snow said.

New York-based lawyer Steve Reich, a veteran of two impeachment proceedings, headed the investigative team that included the Mintz Group, a New York firm specializing in private investigations. Investigators interviewed 165 witnesses, issued 17 subpoenas and analyzed tens of thousands of pages of documents.

Much of what the report contains has been reported in the media and outlined in the committee's two-day hearing in December, including allegations of "pay-for-play," hiding $450,000 in campaign donations and destroying evidence.

It does, however, include copies of emails the committee recently recovered from the crashed hard drive of Swallow's personal computer. Some of them deal with how his campaign consultant, Jason Powers, used hidden campaign money on attack ads against former Republican Rep. Brad Daw, something Swallow professed to not know about.

“Brad Daw knows (we're) after him," Powers wrote to Swallow in on April 19, 2011.

Another email from Swallow to Powers shows the former attorney general toyed with running for governor in March 2011.

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